Recently I spoke with Howard Greenblatt, CTO of Semantic Technology company Metatomix. Headquartered in the north-eastern US State of Massachusetts, Metatomix provides a 'Semantic Platform' that;
"intelligently connects all of your data in real-time and makes it available to any application, providing a 360° picture of your enterprise information."
"As a result, business applications can leverage information that comes not just from a single product system or data store, but from across all data sources. The combined data – including relationships and correlations that were previously undiscovered – can actually create new, insightful information."
The company's most recent announcement, and the impetus for our call, is a product billed as being able to infer semantics from analysis of unstructured textual resources of the sort found throughout most enterprises. Discovery is based upon technology developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with funding from the US Department of Homeland Security.
"Originally designed for use within the national security community, Discovery's information analysis technology was licensed by Metatomix to create a new derivative work that will be integrated throughout the company's suite of semantic middleware solutions."
The approach being taken by Metatomix is interesting, as it recognises the reality of the current information landscape. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the clean and well-structured data that we tend to focus our analyses upon is swamped by a mass of unstructured 'supporting' material. In law enforcement, for example, the structured recording of gender, date, time, and crime codes is often enriched by the content of freeform notes fields that are poorly exploited by all too many of the tools we regularly use.
By developing tools that enable rapid and integrated analysis of both structured and unstructured data, we should provide capabilities that enable the rapid and important decisions made in business and government every day to be more informed, more accurate, and more effective.
It appears that Metatomix is one of those companies attempting to approach this problem with the help of semantic technologies, and Discovery could go some way toward moving them away from a focus upon 'structure' to bring them far closer to territory currently dominated by the likes of Autonomy.
The demonstrations and the rhetoric are certainly impressive; the true test lies in seeing the extent to which real tasks are made easier and more effective for real people in the real world. Metatomix is not alone, and the space shows every sign of getting even more crowded in the next few years.